Stories / Impact

Addressing Mental Health in the Kitchen

Not 9 to 5 calls for support for industry workers

Morgan Carter

August 31, 2020


Photo: Clay Williams

For the past few months, we've been hosting webinars as part of our Industry Support learning series. Topics have covered all facets of the current crisis, from understanding the RESTAURANTS Act, to chefs using their voice to influence policy, to activists securing their local foodways amid a pandemic, and more. Recently we chatted with the co-founders of Not 9 to 5—a nonprofit organization that empowers restaurant industry workers by providing education and support around mental health and substance use—and discussed how to create a safe working environment for all. 

According to Mental Health America (MHA)’s 2017 Mind the Workplace report, the restaurant industry ranks as the third worst workplace for mental health. Primary concerns include depression, anxiety, substance use, eating disorders, and work addiction. After experiencing depression and burnout himself, executive chef Hassel Aviles co-founded Not 9 to 5 to help provide mental wellness resources to hospitality workers. “There is so much emphasis on the sustainability and ethical treatment of the ingredients that we use in our menus. With Not 9 to 5, I am trying to push us to have the same focus on the ethical treatment of the people that are producing, growing, serving, and creating everything that we consume.” 

Not 9 to 5 challenges kitchens to provide psychological safety in the workplace, described by co-founder Ariel Caplan as, “the ability to be able to make a mistake or voice an opinion without any negative consequence.” For hospitality workers, this translates to holding open discussions without judgement so that when workers need help, they can ask for it. 

“It really comes down to each person holding themselves accountable to continuously role model and show how to be vulnerable, [and] how to seek and accept help. By doing this you are holding space for others to do the same,” says Aviles. 

Watch the full webinar for more insights from the founders of Not 9 to 5. 

Check out what's on-deck for our webinar series and find past recordings here. 

Our team would like to know what topics you would like us to cover. Please email us at with your suggestions on speakers, resources, and issues you would like us to host.